Officials from the United States Space Force condemned Russia’s missile strike on a defunct satellite in the low Earth orbit on November 17. According to these sources, Russia’s anti-satellite missile test sends a chilling message that it is serious about expanding its arsenal of the space weapons. Russia performed similar experiments before the November 15 event, according to Lt. Gen. John Shaw, who serves as the deputy commander of US Space Command, notably one in December that garnered a declaration of concern from the Space Command. That test, on the other hand, did not intercept a satellite, but this one did.
“So, they’re continuing to develop counter-space capabilities and continuing to show a contempt for the long-term viability of space,” Shaw stated at American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ ASCEND event. The Russians, according to US Space Force Director of Staff Lt. Gen. Nina Armagno, “are proving that they can kill a satellite in the low Earth orbit.” And if they can take out a Russian spacecraft, you can bet they can take out an American satellite, whether military or commercial.”
Shaw stated that US Space Command scientists are still “characterizing this event,” and that the current estimate of 1,500 debris particles caused by the shattered satellite is still being refined. “We anticipate that the debris will accumulate over time. As the individual components are subjected to their respective atmospheric pull and other effects, the debris cloud is going to begin to disperse.” According to Shaw, the massive cloud of debris “will be a threat which we will need to deal with.” “Any spacefaring nation in the low Earth orbit is going to have a lot of challenges for years.”
Shaw pointed out that the International Space Station (ISS) had to shift just a week ago to avoid colliding with debris from China’s 2007 ASAT test. That anti-satellite missile strike took place in a significantly higher orbit than either this current Russian intercept or even where the ISS is now, implying that the fallout from the November 15 test could be experienced even more severely.
“Here we go again,” Shaw grumbled. “Now we’re dealing with an entirely new event that we’ll have to characterize… In the same way that many have been reflecting closely on 2007 as a significant event in the space realm, we now have 2021 to examine in the same light. And it’ll be a topic of conversation for years.”
The recent ASAT test, according to Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, Space Force head of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, is “part of a plan of counterspace technologies that both Russia and China seek to put either on the orbit or even terrestrially to knock out our capabilities.” According to her, this test is also part of a deterrent tactic. Russia has made it clear that it intends to “degrade our capabilities at some time or prevent us from employing our space capabilities.”